NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government yesterday defended the measures taken to protect visitors and residents from COVID-19 after a recent health notice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned travelers to avoid all travel to the country.
“The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas have taken note of the travel advisory issued by the United States, 23 November 2020, regarding The Bahamas,” read a joint statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism.
“While the general advisory is Level 3 — reconsider travel to The Bahamas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice — travelers should avoid all travel to The Bahamas.
“The Bahamas understands the need for all countries, including the USA, to put in place health and safety measures in the best interest of its nationals. At the same time, The Bahamas has also put in place travel parameters for the protection of Bahamians, residents and tourists in the country, namely by requiring all persons traveling to The Bahamas to have a COVID-19 Travel Visa and a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test to enter The Bahamas.
“Upon entry, all persons are required to undergo mandatory monitoring and testing where necessary. Strict health and safety protocols, such as mask-wearing, [social] distancing and hand sanitization, are in place at all times. These safety measures are laid out in various Emergency Orders that have been widely circulated, both nationally and internationally. Failure to comply with these protocols will result in fines or even imprisonment.”
The Bahamas is currently in its second wave of COVID-19 infections, and although the number of new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in The Bahamas fell 29 percent last week, health officials continue to advise residents to follow the emergency measures that the government has implemented to stem the spread of the virus.
The US travel advisory issued yesterday specifically calls for US citizens to “reconsider travel to The Bahamas due to health and safety measures and COVID-related conditions [and] exercise caution in some areas of The Bahamas due to crime”.
“The new travel advisory level and language reflect updated local crime statistics and a decline in crimes that may affect US travelers to The Bahamas,” it states.
“The travel advisory also continues to take into account the serious health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in The Bahamas.
“The State Department continues to monitor conditions closely and will adjust the travel advisory as needed to help US citizens make informed travel decisions.”
The CDC, meanwhile, lists The Bahamas as “level four: COVID-19 very high” and cautions, “Travelers should avoid all travel to the Bahamas.”
It further states, “CDC recommends that travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide.”
The warnings come amid the tourism industry having just reopened at the beginning of this month, and with most of the country’s visitors originating from the United States.
However, the ministries in their joint statement expressed confidence in the emergency regulations in place, stating: “The Bahamas is confident that if all visitors, nationals and residents abide by these regulations, the spread of the pandemic will be stemmed and the loss of lives will be prevented.
“At the same time, while observing these rules, visitors will have an enjoyable stay in The Bahamas.
“The government of The Bahamas is committed to the safety of every person within its borders and will adhere to medical and scientific advice.
“The Bahamas will continue to work with all countries to fight the pandemic and treat those who have been afflicted by the virus until a vaccine is available. Until such time, we urge all persons to spare no measure to observe health and safety protocols.”
Up to Sunday, November 22, The Bahamas had recorded a total of 7,431 cases of COVID-19, with 1,562 of those cases remaining active.